Blogs

Take an inside look into emerging markets and trends. Gain valuable new perspectives from HBN experts and our partners. Be inspired to know better.

Paint Companies to Pay $400 Million for Lead Paint Clean-up

Rebecca Stamm | November 2018 | Newsletter

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of paint companies in a California case where the state appeals court ordered Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries, and Conagra to pay about $400 million for the cleanup of lead paint in old homes. Several cities and counties in California brought the suit, saying that the companies and their trade associations promoted lead paint well after they knew it was harmful. “This is a very significant victory for the tens of thousands of California children who have been poisoned by lead paint,” said Greta S. Hansen, a Santa Clara County lawyer.

Santa Clara brought the lawsuit on behalf of 10 cities and counties including San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles. The decision serves as an important reminder to manufacturers of the need to understand the contents and associated hazards of their products and to be transparent about those hazards to customers. Because of the argument used in this case, the ramifications may well extend beyond building products.


Now That We See, What Will We Do About Fly Ash?

Bill Walsh | October 2018 | Newsletter

When celebrated Victorian painter Edward Burne-Jones learned that a favorite pigment—it was called Mummy Brown—was in fact manufactured from the desecrated Egyptian dead, he banished it from his palette and bore his remaining tubes to a solemn burial in his English garden. Once you know better, you have to do better. Transparency in the supply chain can reveal inconvenient truths about favored products. Take the fly ash that’s used to gain recycled content credit in LEED and the Living Building Challenge . . . .


Please welcome Bruce Green, our new Chief Operations Officer

Gina Ciganik | October 2018 | Newsletter

We’re proud to announce that Bruce Green has joined HBN’s leadership team as Chief Operations Officer (COO). With 33 years experience in business operations, change management, and software development, Bruce will advance our organizational systems and lead our technology and data platforms into their next chapter. Prior to joining HBN, Bruce was COO of Navitaire (within Accenture LLP), an airline SaaS business he helped grow into a global industry leader. There, he led day- to-day business operations, helped increase product quality, and drove customer satisfaction to over 95% of target. He also led the 20-month, $830M carve out sale of the Navitaire business from Accenture into Amadeus.  Bruce holds a BS in Computer Science from the University of North Dakota.


Careful Insulation Selection and Installation Can Protect R-Value and Health

Rebecca Stamm | October 2018 | Newsletter

Proper techniques and protection are necessary during the installation of insulation to achieve optimal product performance, but also to protect the health of workers and residents. Because incorrect installation can lead to compromised performance and safety, it’s critical to carefully follow installation protocols for any product. Most product literature suggests the use of some level of personal protective equipment (PPE) when installing insulation products, but the level of protection required varies widely among different types of insulation. Because the most effective way to avoid hazardous exposure is to eliminate hazardous chemicals altogether, the controls currently recommended by the SPF industry provide the lowest tiers of protection. In this article, you’ll find background on installation considerations for fiber glass, cellulose, and spray foam insulation.


Look for us at NOMA Unbounded, October 17-20

Bill Walsh | October 2018 | Newsletter

HBN Board Member Brad Grant will lead an expert panel on environmental health and justice at NOMA Unbounded, the annual convention of the National Association of Minority Architects to be held in Chicago, October 17-20. Grant, a professor of architecture at Howard University, will be joined by award winning architects Roberta Washington and Tony Crusor, HBN Founder Bill Walsh, and Cecil Corbin Mark, Deputy Director of the West Harlem Environmental Action Group (WEACT). They’ll discuss Materials Composition, The Design Process and Human Health, Welfare, and Environmental Justice.

Learn more about the conference and schedule


Chemical Pollution Disproportionately Impacts Marginalized Communities, Including Their Water Supplies

Gina Ciganik | October 2018 | Newsletter

Lower-income communities are disproportionately affected by pollution and chemical hazards. Now, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is working to raise awareness of its effects and demand change. New York Times author Kendra Pierre-Louis chronicles his efforts in Greensboro, North Carolina, where coal ash is threatening the groundwater, and potentially the drinking water of residents.

Read more


Boost Your Expertise and Earn CEUs With Parsons’ New Healthy Materials Certificate Program

Teresa Skaar | October 2018 | Newsletter

Parsons Healthy Materials Lab has created a new, four-course online certificate program specifically designed for professionals like you, who are dedicated to making the built environment the best (and healthiest) it can be.

This innovative program is the first of its kind and brings together a group of 60 interdisciplinary experts at the top of their fields (including several HBN staff) to cover every aspect of healthier materials and sustainable buildings. Each course runs for a full semester and is completely self-paced to accommodate busy schedules. Completing the entire Healthy Materials & Sustainable Buildings certificate enables you to obtain 18 AIA HSW Continuing Education Credits.

Visit healthymaterialslab.org for more details about each course and registration information.


New Chief Research Officer Brings Wide Expertise to HBN

Gina Ciganik | September 2018 | Newsletter

Please join us in welcoming Teresa McGrath, our new Chief Research Officer, who will lead Research and Education strategies at HBN. Teresa brings holistic knowledge and multi-sector experience to our organization, having worked in government, NGO, and industry. Before joining HBN, she led the Chemical Management Program for Sherwin-Williams, the largest paints and coatings company in the world. Her work focused on hazards reduction and transparency, and assisting business units in meeting their specific sustainability and green chemistry goals. She also spent nine years as the Senior Managing Toxicologist at NSF International’s Green Chemistry Programs, and two years at the Environmental Protection Agency in the Design for the Environment (DfE) Branch of the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT).


The High Cost of Cheap PVC

Bill Walsh | September 2018 | Newsletter

Healthier, more sustainable alternatives have a hard time competing with a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic industry that is not held accountable for the costs of its environmental and human health impacts. These costs are paid by people like Delma and Christine Bennet, of Mossville, LA.

Learn more about the implications of chlorine as a feedstock in plastics in our Chlorine and Building Materials report.


Maximize Your Impact: Transformation Targets Will Help Prioritize Product Choices

Tom Lent | September 2018 | Newsletter

Confused by conflicting red lists? Unsure where to focus your limited project time while trying to choose healthier building materials or products? Help is on the way. This fall, HBN will be rolling out “Transformation Targets” to help you prioritize your efforts and make the greatest impact on your project and in the industry.